On April 19th, GDT and HPE hosted a Dine & Dash at Mexican Sugar, an award-winning Cocina and Cantina at The Shops at Legacy in Plano. Attendees watched an HPE presentation on the SimpliVity 380, the IT industry’s most robust hyperconverged platform. All in attendance received a $50 VISA gift card, and Ken Munson, CitiBank’s Information Security Officer, won the raffle–a weekend stay at The Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. Here’s the really cool part–each of those in attendance were sent home a hero with a gourmet Mexican food dinner for 4. Great event, and well attended with over 30 guests!
If you’re not familiar with how ransomware works, call the city of Atlanta’s IT department. On March 22nd, they were hit with the SamSam ransomware, which created, in effect, an encrypted wall that prevented employees from accessing needed data. It effectively ground city services to a halt. The city couldn’t collect parking fines and payments for city services. Police had to hand-write reports, which greatly hindered the force’s efficiency.
The cyber attackers threatened to wipe the city’s computers clean unless they coughed up a bitcoin-based ransom payment. It’s unclear whether the payment was ever made (slowly the city has been able to bring services back online), but the attack has cost the city an estimated $2 million to date. The attackers who introduced SamSam three (3) years ago have collected almost $1 million, and that figure will likely grow.
There are a number of ways organizations can protect themselves against ransomware. Nothing is sure-fire, though; it’s a high stakes cat-and-mouse game. In the case of SamSam, as with most ransomware, it learns and adapts from each new attack.
First, make sure you’ve implemented the following…
These security measures might seem simple and intuitive, but they represent the best defenses―when implemented collectively―against falling victim to ransomware.
Make certain antivirus software is installed and up-to-date on all endpoints of your organization. It’s a great first line of defense, but relying on it alone could be a fool’s paradise.
Back up all data on a regular basis, which can be accomplished via the cloud or local storage devices. Flash storage is based on high-speed, electrically programmable memory. It performs and writes data in a flash, and is a form of non-volatile memory that doesn’t require power to maintain its stored data. Flash storage is more durable, and not as susceptible to bumps and drops, which means data is stored and maintained more securely.
Create Group Policy (GPO) restrictions, which are simple and easy to implement. They can provide control over the execution of files, such as those from users’ APPDATA directories.
Make sure the latest security patches are installed on all third-party applications like, as examples, Adobe, Flash and Java.
Restrict administrative rights to a few, select employees. Organizations might believe they’ve been restrictive, only to learn that, after several years, hundreds of employees have been granted administrative rights.
Implement security awareness training. While the aforementioned are key elements for helping secure your organization from ransomware and malware, the biggest threat comes from a lack of employee education. Make sure users ask themselves, prior to opening a link or attachment, Do I know the sender? and Do I really need to open this link or file? If they don’t consider these questions, your organization could be ripe for the picking―or phishing―which is one of the most common entry gateways for ransomware.
Consider calling on the experts
Not proactively protecting your organization’s network and data against ransomware attacks is really a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later proposition. If you choose to ignore it or believe you’ve got it all covered, it’s a good idea to consult with network security experts like those at GDT. They can help your organization ensure the necessary steps, solutions and hardware are in place to prevent it from falling victim to a ransomware attack.
On Wednesday afternoon of April 11th, GDT hosted sales “speed dating” with sales professionals from GDT and Cisco. It gave all a chance to get to know each other, share sales best practices, and compare notes and information on accounts while mapping out strategies for working together to drive revenue for both companies. According to one GDT account executive, “I was really excited to see how many Cisco sales reps showed up and really embraced the event and GDT’s goals. They were eager to work together to fill sales funnels.” Another mentioned that he got several hot leads from the event–enough said.
GDT hosted another one of its preeminent home opener tailgate parties on April 2nd. But for the first time, it was at the home opener of a World Series Champion. Dozens of GDT customers (most of whom were Astros fans) came to enjoy excellent food, great beverages and fan camaraderie that Houston waited 52 years to celebrate.
GDT once again hosted its epic Tailgate Party at the Texas Rangers home opener on Thursday, March 29th. While the hometown Rangers lost to the World Series Champion Houston Astros, it didn’t seem to matter much to the dozens of customers who came to the party–several from out of state–which featured great food, cold beverages, and the raffling off of memorabilia, such as signed pics and balls from Rangers greats and current Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Pudge Rodriguez (the greatest catcher in Major League history).
On March 28th, GDT hosted a day-long presentation from the Dell EMC team. The executive briefing was strictly for Dallas-based GDT account executives, and focused on, among other things, Dell EMC’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). The event was a tremendous success, with over 30 participants.
On Wednesday, March 28th, GDT hosted another Cisco Cyber Threat Response Clinic. Attendees–yes, it was a full house–enjoyed exclusive training on how networks get compromised, how breaches are discovered, and how to respond to them with Cisco security products and solutions. Here’s the really cool part–they got to experience cyber attack situations in a virtual lab environment, and play both attacker and defender! They learned how to think like an attacker, so they can beat them at their own game and keep their network safe and secure.
Try explaining flash storage, data analytics, or hybrid cloud solutions to the man on the street. Unless they work in the IT industry, you’re likely to be met with a blank, indifferent stare. But mention their smart phone, tablet, Ring doorbell or Fitbit watch, and device specs will roll off their tongue like a well-worn nursery rhyme.
Once IP addresses were imbedded into everyday items, like light switches, watches and doorbells, IoT soon followed. Or did IoT generate smart devices? Actually, it may have. While IoT wasn’t officially coined until 1999, one of the first examples involved developers at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1980’s. They were able to connect to a soft drink machine via the Internet to determine if the drinks were cold enough to merit a purchase.
If your organization is ready to begin building an IoT strategy to gain a competitive edge by, among other things, enhancing your customers’ experiences, keep the following tips in mind.
First, begin with executives in mind
If you’re building a case to internally sell executives on the reasons why an IoT solution needs to be implemented, be prepared to translate exactly how it will satisfy ROI requirements. And then, of course, know what the solution will do to help drive bottom-line revenue.
IoT is all about customer experience
There are several reasons organizations want to create an IoT strategy, but whether any of them bear fruit depends on the customer experience and how it will solve issues. Creating a great customer experience might not generate short-term profits, but if it’s ultimately created and implemented with the customer in mind, future monetization will follow more easily.
You can think big, but start small
Thinking big is great, but if you don’t start small with projects that are bite-sized, you might find yourself doing something else in a big way—failing. Start with a project that is small and discrete, and prepare to learn from its failures, if there are any. For example, only tackle one floor of a building, or only a single store or vehicle.
Create a well-defined scope of work
Creating a detailed roadmap, or scope of work, for your IoT project is critical in helping to provide it the highest chance for success. It needs to contain measurable milestones, or success metrics, and include:
End products required,
Plans for ongoing maintenance and management, and a
No need to re-create the wheel
Pre-packaged IoT solutions are readily available from many companies, and they’re a good start, especially when tackling that first, small project. Using a pre-packaged solution can take many of the headaches out of implementing an IoT strategy, but they might box you in when the projects get bigger, meaning an increase in spend for customization.
It doesn’t end with the implementation
Make certain that part of your scope work includes the ongoing maintenance of your IoT project. Don’t take a We’ll figure it out when we get there approach. While planning and implementing an IoT project is exciting, not planning for regular, ongoing evaluation and maintenance could ultimately end in dissatisfied customers.
Developing and implementing an IoT solutions for your organization is something you’ll proudly point out on your resume for years to come. But while it’s exciting stuff, it’s a lot more involved than most realize. That’s why working with the IoT professionals at GDT can help ensure your organization gets the most from its IoT vision.
On March 9th, GDT partner Turbonomic presented information on how they automate workloads for Hybrid Cloud environments. Their platform simultaneously optimizes performance, cost, and compliance in real-time. Great company, great platform, great meeting!